Hamas praises anti-Zionist Jews "heros" against Israel siege
Story Code : 8333
Hamas leader Ismail Haniye met on Thursday with a group of anti-Zionism Orthodox Jews who arrived in Gaza with a US aid convoy.
It was the first time envoys from the Neturei Karta have visited the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized control in June 2007.
The Hamas leader praised his four Jewish guests, saying, "Those religious figures that express their objection to the siege, the aggression and the crimes – we can't help but respect them and for their beliefs and their culture."
Haniyeh also said that the US-based Viva Palestina convoy "is proof that the American people is not entirely a people of occupation and is not entirely on the side of the criminal Zionist regime."
"We view you as heroes; you are opening the eyes of the world to the siege in the Strip," he added.
The ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews arrived with the "Lifeline 2" convoy of 200 people led by antiwar British MP Galloway who made his second journey to the war-torn Strip this year. In March he donated 25,000 British pounds and a fleet of ambulances to the Hamas-run Gaza government.
During their Thursday meeting, Haniyeh told them that the "Palestinian people are not against the Israelis because they are Jewish, but they are against the occupation and the Zionism that deny Palestinians their rights."
"We feel your suffering, we cry your cry," said Rabbi Yisroel Weiss upon arriving Wednesday night. "It is your land, it is occupied, illegitimately and unjustly by people who stole it, kidnapped the name of Judaism and our identity," said Weiss.
Neturei Karta, Aramaic for "Guardians of the City," was founded some 70 years ago in Jerusalem by Jews.
Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt, Gaza's sole border crossing that bypasses Israel, rarely opens as Egypt is under immense US and Israeli pressure to keep the crossing shut.
Human rights groups, both international and Israeli, slammed Israel's siege of Gaza, branding it "collective punishment."
Israel killed nearly 1434 Palestinians, a third of them children and wounded more than 5000 Palestinians in the 22-day military aggression in December 2008 on Gaza.